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April 26, 2018

April 26, 2018

Dear Friends,
 
When we planted Redeemer, we decided for a number of reasons that we would take the Lord’s Supper each week.  Many of you have told us that you value this weekly time of reflection and celebration.
 
Why weekly?
 
First, we do it because there is strong biblical evidence that this was the pattern of the early church.  Acts 2:42 says that the breaking of bread was something the early church was devoted to.  And in Acts 20:7, we read this:  “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.”
 
Second, we do it because God has promised to be with us in a unique way when we gather at the table.  As you know, the Bible teaches that Jesus is always present with us, wherever we go.  He never leaves us or forsakes us and there is nowhere we can go where He is not!  But when we gather for worship, Jesus is manifestly present as His word is preached and as we respond to His word by receiving the bread and the wine.  I believe Jesus is pouring His grace into our lives in a special way as we focus our hearts and minds on His death and resurrection each week.
 
And that connects to a third reason why we take communion each week.  Communion is a clear proclamation of the gospel.  Having communion in our service means that even if the preacher somehow neglects it in his message, it’s never not preached.
 
And because we are actively taking part in communion, we are not simply hearing the gospel each week.  We’re responding to what we’re hearing.  We’re having to decide to participate and to reaffirm our belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  It’s one reason why we have people come forward to receive the elements instead of passing them to you while you remain seated.  Coming forward requires more intentionality on your part for you to participate.
 
As you know, we practice open communion.  This is something I’ve gone back and forth on in my thinking about how we administer the elements.  Our friends who practice closed communion (for church members only) do so because, to the extent that they are able, they want to make sure that only believers are participating.  These brothers are carefully shepherding their people, wanting to do all they can to keep an unbeliever from “eating and drinking judgment on himself” (1 Cor. 11:29). 
 
In our practice, the onus shifts from having the leaders of the church determine who can and who can’t take the Lord’s Supper to allowing as individual to make a personal decision based on conscience.  It’s why we always explain that communion is a family meal for those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus before we serve the elements.  We urge unbelievers not to participate. 
 
But at the end of the day, it’s up to an individual to decide to join in or not.
 
What about children taking communion?
 
In most churches that practice believer’s baptism (as we do), it is common for people to be baptized before they begin taking communion.  Baptism is the public declaration of our faith in Christ.  Joining the family at the table comes after you have declared that you are part of the family.
 
In churches that practice infant baptism, it is common for the baptized child to wait to take “first communion” until the have reached a certain age and their relationship with Jesus has been “confirmed” by church leaders. 
 
There are a minority of reformed churches that practice infant baptism and what’s called peado-communion.  Baptized children take the Lord’s Supper right along with mom and dad.   
 
In all traditions, communion follows baptism.  Your adoption into the family of God is formally and publicly declared and your identification with Jesus in baptism happens before you begin the ongoing practice of taking communion.
 
Again, our practice has been to have moms and dads decide when and if their children take the Lord’s Supper.  When a child has made what parents believe is a credible profession of faith in Jesus, the parents will invite their children to participate with them in the Lord’s Supper.
 
So why would those parents not have their child be baptized first?
 
In some cases, parents want to wait for baptism until a child can more clearly make a public testimony.  Some young children are shy or reticent to speak in front of a big group.  Mom and dad believe the child is genuinely saved, but maybe not able to articulate their salvation in what can be an intimidating public ceremony.  So they hold off on baptism, but allow the child to take the Lord’s Supper each week.
 
Our practice has been to let parents decide how to handle communion with their children.  It was our practice with our children to have them wait to participate in the Lord’s Supper until they had been baptized.  My thought was that if our child, for whatever reason, wasn’t ready to publicly give his or her testimony and be baptized, they should wait to join in the family meal until after they were ready to share with everyone that they had surrendered their life to Jesus. 
 
Children who come through the communion line with their parents are bound to want the cracker and the juice.  They want to imitate their parent’s behavior.  And sometimes, they just want a snack!  After all, they’ve been sitting quietly for a long time.
 
This regular practice of communion gives parents a good opportunity to regularly talk with a child about the gospel and about their relationship with Jesus.  And to encourage your child to publicly declare that he belongs to Christ. 
 
We don’t want communion to somehow motivate an unregenerate child to make a false profession of faith, just so he or she can participate in the Lord’s Supper at church and feel more like a grown up.
 
But we do hope moms and dads will talk with their children about these two key ordinances of the church – baptism and communion – and explain to their kids the significance of both practices.  It’s up to you to decide if you want to have an unbaptized child participate in communion.  I would urge moms and dads to look more carefully at what the Bible says about both ordinances.  And if we can help you think through these matters more carefully, please let us know.
 


Since we’ve been talking here about communion and baptism and how they go together, this would be a good time to remind you that on Sunday June 10, we’ll have a baptism service at our traditional location – Tom and Nancy Arnold’s home. 
 
If you haven’t been baptized since you surrendered your life to Jesus, we would love to talk to you about following the Lord and being obedient with this public declaration of your faith.
 
But before you can be baptized, we need to set up a time to meet with you (or your children).   You can contact Matt Gurney and let him know that you’re interested in being baptized.  mattgurney77@gmail.com 
 
I’ve had conversations over the years with people who were baptized as infants (I was) and who then became Christians later in life (I did).  People often wonder if they should be “re-baptized.”
 
I chose to be “re-baptized” after I became a Christian, based on my understanding of what the Bible teaches about baptism. 
 
At Redeemer, we have decided not to make believers baptism a requirement for membership.  Again here, we want you to be guided by your understanding of scripture and your conscience.  And there is room for brothers and sisters in Christ to come to different conclusions on this matter.
 
But I will say that sometimes, a decision not to be “re-baptized” is motivated more out of embarrassment or fear than out of biblical conviction.  Those would be the wrong reasons for not practicing believer’s baptism. 
 
So as we get ready for a baptism service, ask yourself if you believe the scripture teaches that baptism is an ordinance that follows spiritual regeneration in a person’s life.  And then if you haven’t been baptized since you became a Christian, ask yourself “why not?”  Maybe it’s time…
 


This Sunday night has been set aside for a night of prayer and praise.  We’ll be meeting at church that night from 6:30 – 7:30, gathering for a simple night of reading and hearing Scripture, praying as a large group, praying in smaller groups, and praying individually as well.  We will sing a few songs to keep our hearts and minds focused on what we are praying for. We will thank God for all He has done and look forward expectantly seeking His face for His glory to be displayed in and through us at Redeemer. 
 
We’ll have child care available for infants and toddlers.
 
We hope you’ll plan to be there.
 


The next Kids Small Group is next Thursday night.  And Matt and Jen have an offer for you. 
 
You can drop of the kids at 5:45 for dinner and pick them up by 8:15 like always. 
 
OR, if you’re planning to bless your pastor by going see the Like Arrows movie that night (www.likearrowsmovie.com), Matt and Jen and team will keep your kids at the church until the movie is over. 
 
Free babysitting!   Contact Matt Gurney with questions.  Mattgurney77@gmail.com.
 


Our next prospective membership meeting is scheduled for Saturday, May 19.  If you’d like to find out more about what’s involved in membership at Redeemer, let Matt Gurney know.  mattgurney77@gmail.com  There is some light reading required before the Saturday meeting, so make sure you connect with Matt ahead of time.
 


Remember, if you have any concerns about Randall Van Den Berghe serving as a deacon at Redeemer now is the time for you to approach him and bring your concerns to him. 
 
Assuming there are no concerns from any members, we will plan to install Randall in his role on Sunday, May 6 during our morning worship service.
 


Here’s an opportunity to invest in your marriage that Julie Majors asked me to pass along to you:
 
Hi All -- 
I've spoken with many of you how the book, How We Love, has impacted my marriage.  Exciting enough, the authors are coming to Little Rock to be interviewed on FamilyLife Today.  John and I asked them to stay and do a seminar for the FamilyLife staff, and our friends. I'm really looking forward to it. Everyone that I've recommended the book to, and has read it, says that it was also very helpful in their marriage.
 
I hope you will come & please help me get the word out.  
 
Here are the details:
 
When: Thursday, May 17 6:30-9:30pm
Where: FamilyLife Building 
Cost: $20/couple. Reserve tickets by mailing a check payable to Milan & Kay Resources to: 
 
FamilyLife Front Desk 
c/o How We Love Seminar
5800 Ranch Drive
Little Rock, AR 72223
 
Relationship experts Milan and Kay Yerkovich draw on the powerful tool of attachment theory to show how early life experiences created an underlying blueprint that shapes behavior, beliefs, and expectations of all relationships, especially in marriage.  
 
The principles outlined in the How We Love seminar will equip you to 
- identify the imprints disrupting your marriage
- understand how your love style impacts your mate
- break free of negative patterns
- enhance sexual intimacy
- create the deeper, richer marriage of your dreams.
 
Discover your love style and take a quiz at HowWeLove.com
 


So what’s the deal with heaping burning coals on someone’s head?  
 
That, and more, this Sunday.
 
 
See you in church.
 
Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

 

 

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